This I Believe

Tyler - Peckville, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 27, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

Recently I have been desperately trying to uncover my beliefs. I considered myself a man with principles and personal guidelines, so you can imagine how bewildered I was when finding myself not only with an empty word document but also a silent acceptance of my fickleness; so I read about someone else’s belief.

I continued to read many essays regarding the beliefs of others; whether it was out of sheer interest or the need for inspiration, I noticed how each person was so adamant over their own belief, many of which were shaped from dramatic experiences that sparked revelations. Then it hit me. I feared such strong convictions because I always felt beliefs should not be altered; they were set in stones which could not be smashed. Therefore, it was safe to say the “beliefs” I held (and was searching for) were chameleons blending as ideas. Perhaps I was afraid to have a “belief” in case I felt the need to change it. So what I have come to question (perhaps a baby step towards my personal revelation): Why are we afraid to change our beliefs?

I remember years ago when DVDs were sweeping a video nation and eventually invading my family. My whole family recognized the brilliance in color, sound, and overall quality and we certainly did not plan to weep over the death of VHS – except my father, a man who treats changing political parties as dooming as a mortal sin. He refused to adapt to this new advancement because he believed VHS was still technologically superior. I did not believe that; nor did he, but his stubbornness prevented him from changing his belief (it took him roughly six years to come around). I suppose I feared that would eventually happen to me.

I used to think confusing beliefs with ideas was dangerous. I followed the philosophy that beliefs could not be changed; only ideas could. When I was a child, my father gave me several sticks and told me to break them individually; of course, I did. Then he told me to tie those sticks in a bundle and try to break them again; of course, I did not. “That’s a belief,” he said, and from then on, I believed that.

Many people say beliefs build a person’s character, but I think if used the wrong way, they can demolish it. Too many times have I seen someone appear ignorant in order to maintain their belief, even though they may not even truly believe it themselves. People have died over such stubbornness; wars have been fought to preserve unflinching beliefs. I would like to think I finally understand the power of a belief, and presume I can now properly hold one.

So I suppose I have reached my own belief.

I believe a belief can be changed; more importantly, I believe people should not fear such a change. Perhaps we should confuse ideas with beliefs sometimes; after all, the stick was easier to break.